Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Interview with an Independentista... Dave Coull... [the activist]

Dave Coull is a pro- independence activist of well-known reknown. Sometimes loved, sometimes disliked, always controversial and more than often right if you take the trouble to listen... Tragically for Dave the News of the World preferred to insult and defame him rather than listen to what he had to say. The same, obviously, is true of factions within the pro-independence movement. That's a shame, because fighting amongst ourselves doesn't help ANYONE.

Anyway, to the interview. Ladies and Gentlemen: Mr Dave Coull...

Q: Now that you’ve had some time to digest the NOTW article, what are your thoughts on it?

A: That article was a distortion of the truth. Every single alleged "quote" from me was in fact a MIS-quote which distorted what I had actually said, and every single comment from the NOTW was also a distortion. For instance, they turned my garage into a "chicken coop" because they thought that would sound funnier. Because the article was so blatantly inaccurate I wanted a "right of reply". I didn't want to sue for libel because I wasn't after money, just a correction in the NOTW. I consulted a lawyer about this, and he did write to them. They just ignored the letter. My lawyer advised me that the Murdoch Corporation, which owns the NOTW, would prefer fighting a lawsuit to publishing a retraction. He said they never retract anything, even if they have clearly been proved wrong. They are an extremely wealthy corporation with a team of very expensive lawyers who won't give an inch even in a very small case because of the precedent it could set. My lawyer said unless you're a multi-millionaire, forget about trying to take them on. I am not happy about this, and I'm not giving up, but any action is going to have be something else, not through lawyers and courts.

Q: The reaction from the pro-Independence lobby was not good. Why do you think this was?

A: Well, for a start, I reckon so far as quite a lot of folk in the SNP, or who are supporters of the SNP, are concerned, they feel they've got an SNP government, and there will be a referendum on independence sooner or later, so anybody who is demonstrating about this now must be some kind of nutter, and that made them more ready to believe anything the NOTW said about me. Then, so far as a lot of folk on the Left are concerned, there was the precedent of the Tommy Sheridan case. Quite a lot of folk in and around the old SSP, whichever faction they sided with in that party's troubles, probably took the view that I should have known what to expect from the NOTW, and, while what was printed was a distortion, by agreeing to talk to them I deserved everything I got. I had in actual fact been quite reluctant to talk to the NOTW, and would have preferred some other member of Determination to do so, but if I had refused they would probably have made a story out of that refusal, and printed something along the lines of what they were planning anyway. And let's not forget the split in Independence First. For folk who supported the closing down of the IF members forum, and the suppression of dissenting views, the NOTW describing me as some sort of impossible mister angry provided a very convenient way of shifting the spotlight off their OWN responsibility for the resignation of fifteen IF members. So, there's three reasons why some pro-independence folk didn't show solidarity with me.

Q: Is there any response you would like to make about the article?

A: I have written a detailed rebuttal of it. Do you want that? (FFX n.b. I have emailed DC over this).

Q: In your opinion, how will Scotland get its Independence from London rule?

A: I think it will be a combination of factors. There is the international context to consider, and the importance of international public opinion should not be underestimated. Generally speaking, I think the anti-war movement internationally is likely to be supportive. There is also the question of what is happening in England. A lot has been made recently of English Nationalism in reaction to the growing assertion of Scottish independence, but let's not forget that we also have our friends in England who support Scottish independence for positive reasons. Here at home, obviously the SNP government does have a role to play, and Alex Salmond is one very smart Alex indeed. But there are dangers in relying too much on any government, or on any political party, or on any Great Leader. If the troubles of the SSP with Tommy Sheridan proved anything, it was that relying too much on a charismatic leader meant it was a total disaster when something went wrong for that leader. It is important that the independence movement doesn't rely too much on any one leader, or on any one party, or, come to that, on any single campaigning organisation. We should support the initiative of the Independence Convention in promoting a petition aiming at one hundred thousand signatures, but not fall into the trap of seeing that as the ONLY way of campaigning. So far as our group, Determination, is concerned, our contribution will probably be quite small, but, nevertheless, I think it important to have an independent voice which is pushing hard for a referendum and for independence without delay, and not following anybody's party line. All of these factors will play their part. Sooner or later we will get our referendum, I am absolutely certain there will be a decisive majority for independence, and although there will be all sorts of obstacles placed by various elements of the British establishment after that, if we keep pushing hard, and remember to seek and keep the support of folk in other parts of the British Isles, and folk in Europe, and folk in the wider world, I think Scotland will be independent within a few years.

Q: [Since I’m a republican] Are you a Republican or a Monarchist?

A: The only reason I have never described myself as a republican is because I tend to be a bit anarchistic in my attitudes, and the word republican tends to imply support for a government as long as that government doesn't have a king or a queen!

Q: If you had to make one statement about Scotland, right now, what would that statement be?


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